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The Parish of Brockham

Prior to 1534, the people of Brockham worshipped at St Michael’s, Betchworth, where there had been a church on the present site for 900 years. A fragment of the stone Saxon church can be seen in a pillar of the south window of the tower. The south aisle chapel always had a connection with the Manor of Brockham and there is a memorial to Gabriel Wright, whose family were Lords of the Manor for two centuries from 1605. It became known as the Hope Chapel after Henry Thomas Hope bought the Manor in 1838.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century attendance at Betchworth by people in Brockham must have declined because according to an old manuscript in the possession of the Strict Baptist Chapel, “the gospel in its purity was a new thing brought to the ears of the inhabitants”.

There is an account of the beginning of the chapel “without knowledge or desire of an inhabitant of the place, Mr Abel, who resided at Horton, prayed Mr Bugsby, a Minister of the Gospel at Epsom to come to Brockham and there preach the gospel to the people.” Mr Bugsby first preached on 3rd Jan 1783, although there was no chapel at that time.

Sometimes he preached in a barn, sometimes in the open air, depending on the season; “and the gospel in it’s purity was a new thing brought to the ears of the inhabitants”. It excited the curiosity of many from places nearby to come and hear.

Although some villagers mocked, others were determined to hear him again even in the midst of much opposition. Many “false reports” were circulated with the “intent to render both the gospel and God’s messenger odious and contemptible in the sight of the people.”

Nevertheless Mr Bugsby continued as directed by the wise man, ‘In the morning sow thy seed and in the evening hold not thy hand.’

During the summer of that same year, 1783, Mr Abel erected a chapel. In the following year a few formed themselves into a church and Mr Busby became their pastor as a branch of the Epsom Church.

Forty years later, in 1820, a baptistery inside the chapel was used for the first time. Previously baptisms had been in the River Mole. It was agreed in 1830 that this church should be a Particular Baptist Church and not as it had been a ‘mixed communion’.

The Chapel was enlarged in 1832, 1834 and 1836 as the the church and congregation grew. It was necessary to enlarge the building by taking in the vestry rooms and building others. Around this time half of the chapel was pewed which was before open seats. The cost for the new building work was paid for by donations, pew rents and penny subscriptions.

In 1844, River Cottage was built for the minister at a cost of nearly 285. It comprised two rooms above, 2 below and a lean to for wash house and pantry.

One who attended services in the 1850s wrote:

“In my mind I picture the chapel at that time. It was lit by tallow candles which, during the service required snuffing. The table pew was occupied by 13 grey-haired old men, some of who wore round smocked frocks and hobnailed boots; the good old tall fine-grown clerk himself as thus attired. These formed the choir; there was a pitch pipe, a flute and a concertina. It did one good to hear how lushly these good old singers would rattle out well-known tunes. In those days many horses and traps might be seen driving across the Green, which were put up at the two inns during service. Quite a number came from considerable distance, from Leatherhead, Reigate, Westcott and Dorking and much pleasant and sometimes spiritual conversation we had while walking in groups together through the park.”

After preaching 271 sermons in Brockham, Mr Haddow became pastor in 1895 and continued for forty years until he died in 1935 at the age of eighty.

Brockham Manor was one of four included in the Parish of Betchworth – East Betchworth, Wonham and Aglond Moor.

In 1816 the Manor of East Betchworth (now Betchworth House) was bought by the Rt Hon Henry Goulburn (1784-1856), a senior parliamentary statesman. He represented Cambridge University in Parliament for over twenty years and was Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer. His eldest son, Henry, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and barrister died in 1845 aged 30.

For many years Henry Goulburn Snr's earnest desire had been to erect a church on Brockham Green. He had collected a considerable sum for this purpose and his friends decided to complete his plan as a memorial to his son.

The site was given by Henry Thomas Hope and the architect was Benjamin Ferry, a pupil of Augustus Pugin. At this time there was a great boom in church building, and he designed the churches of Kingswood, Coldharbour and St Paul’s, Dorking. While Brockham Christ Church was being built, Ferry was also working on an impressive extension to the Bishop’s Palace at Wells.

Ferry recorded of Brockham Church,

“At the time the church was built there was much discussion in the committee whether brick and flint or local stone should be the materials, but an offer being made by Sir Benjamin Brodie to give all the stone required for the walls, it was felt to be too generous an offer to be rejected. Every possible care was taken to select the best stone and an immense quantity was set aside as unfit for use.”

Sir Benjamin Brodie was living at Broome Park, Betchworth and his estate which extended to the top of the hill included quarries. The start of the railway in 1847 was celebrated at Broome Park.

Christ Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester on 12th January 1847 and divine service was performed on 17th January being the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany. The Rev John Miller was read in on 21st February.

Christ Church was a daughter church of St Michael’s and the incumbent as Perpetual Curate received about 70 per annum; 50 being from endowment and the balance from pew rents after all church expenses had been paid. The fees for births, marriages and burials belonged to the Mother Church of St Michael's.

The first to be baptised in the new church was George Arnold; the first bann to be published for the marriage of Joseph Bormer and Sarah Tucker; the first wedding was between Joseph Fuller & Elizabeth Morphew.

“ Recollections by the Oldest Inhabitant on his 88th birthday” were printed in the 1888 ‘Brockham Report’, which was a magazine of church and village affairs.The old man was Johnson Batchelar, a member of a family of builders. He lived opposite the west end of the church.

“Brockham has always been a little dissenting place of worship, having a Baptist Chapel in it”, he wrote. “I remember when there was much talk of a church being built in it; of course it caused much talk of where the congregation was coming from and such like. Now as I was a frequenter, going to the Betchworth Church on Sunday, I counted the people that attended the Betchworth Church that went from Brockham and it generally averaged from 60 – 70 old and young; the distance was too great for the very old or there would have been more no doubt… I remember well the first Sunday the Church was opened for divine service. I, hearing the bell tolled, opened the front door and saw the Revd John Miller of Ipswich, walk straight down the middle of the Green to C W Roworth Esq, the appointed churchwarden, in his black silk surplice and I thought what a fine sight for Brockham and the rising generation. It caused such a thinking sensation in me that I can never forget it.”

In 1855 the Vicarage was built by public subscriptions in a very different style from the Baptist Minister’s house of 1844. The site cost 240, the house 1,218, the garden wall 58 and 45 for fencing.

The Reverend Alan Benjamin Cheales was read in on 8th May 1859 and stayed until 1892. He was actively involved in all Village life although the population was a lot smaller then. In 1861 there were only 619 people and 160 houses.

In 1864, Rev Alan Cheales suggested a drinking fountain as a memorial to Henry Thomas Hope. The plan was to erect it over the spring in The Borough, but information came to light about it a spring on the Green which was blocked. Mr Batchelar was asked to examine the spring and report back to Rev Cheales. At this meeting it was resolved that only residents of the meeting should subscribe, with the exception of Mrs Way, who was included on behalf of Brockham Home. Several contributions of 6d were recorded and of one 2d; the total cost of the Pump was 39 19s 6d.

Rev Cheales served as chairman on committees who arranged special events such as the celebrations on the occasion of the marriage of the Prince of Wales in 1863. Dinner was then served to the men of the labouring classes in the barn of Court Lodge Farm; 200 of the places being provided by Mr Hackblock of Brockham Warren. He also gave tea and cakes for the women and children. The committee voted 2 for the purchase of rakes and medals for the school children. A bonfire was lit on the highest part of Box Hill.

In Nov 1868, the Parish of Christ Church Brockham became a separate District for Ecclesiastical purposes and the incumbent a Vicar. The Churchwardens must be elected, not as formerly by Pew Renters, but by the inhabitants residing in Brockham. Rate payers of the village were invited to assemble at the Easter Monday Vestry to garnt to their own Church the same rate which had hitherto been paid to the Mother Church at Betchworth. It was agreed 2d in the pound should be collected to cover the expenses of warming and lighting, the care of the clock, cleaning the church and repairs. Now the incumbency was a Vicarage and births, marriages and burial fees were surrendered by the Vicar of Betchworth.

Betchworth and Brockham combined for Mission Services from 1st – 25th February 1872. The Bishop came to help in a wek of prayer “and special effort for the conversion of sinners and the revival and deepening of spiritual life in this part of this diocese.” Confirmations were held in both parishes. These were services every morning and prayer meetings in the schoolrooms every evening. The climax of the week was an Ordination Service in Dorking.

After fourteen years as organist Mrs Cheales resigned and an appeal launched for money to pay for her successor. Several parishioners undertook to promise annual sums.

In 1877 the Parishes of Betchworth and Brockham became part of the Diocese of Rochester.
The Brockham Church Choir was managed by the organist under the direction of the Vicar. Boys were paid 9s per annum to attend twice on Sundays and at occasional services. Practices were held in the school at 7:30pm on Thursdays. One penny was deducted for every absence without leave from any service or practice. Prayer books were to be used and responses repeated. No talking, whispering or looking about and no reading during the sermon allowed.

Income of the Church and partly that of Rev Cheales was drawn from pew rents which in 1878 amounted to 59. One half of the sittings had, by law, to be free and be as “advantageously situated with regard to position and convenience as those for which a rent may be fixed or received.”

The Pew Opener’s salary was 8 per annum for which he attended the Church on Sunday and other appointed services, to light and attend fires, stoves and candles and to wind and take general charge of the clock.
The Church was cleaned by Mrs Worsfold and in 1866 her wages were raised from 2 to 2 10s per annum.

In 1879 a letter to the Patron, Col Goulburn offered him a pew seating five in the NW corner of the north transept which had a common door with Mrs Hope’s pew, but a separate door could be arranged. This pew would be instead of the choir stall in the chancel, which would be returned to the Vicar’s family. After consulting his son, Col Goulburn replied that the cushions and hassocks had better be moved to the new pew and he would take a look at it next time he visited Brockham for a School Board meeting. He would ask his solicitor whether it would be necessary to have a legal document to confirm the change. Pew rents continued in Brockham until 1939.

The Golden Jubilee of H.M. Queen Victoria on June 21st 1887 was an occasion for public festivities. The day opened with a Thanksgiving Service in Church at which was sung a hymn specially written by the Vicar. At noon 350 men dined in the barns at Brockham Court, beautifully decorated by the owners, Mr and Mrs Hatch. Athletic sports were enjoyed on the Green in the afternoon, the prizes being in the new coinage. Tea for the women and children was provided in the same barns, where 1200 persons feasted in the course of the day. A military band was in attendance and the festivities closed with dancing on the Green and a display of coloured lights and rockets at 10 p.m. exhibited by Mr Kempe. It was to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee that the lovely pyramidal oak tree was planted in the northwest corner of the churchyard.

In 1905 Brockham became part of the newly formed DIOCESE OF SOUTHWARK. After the war, when the village was included in the Urban District of Dorking and the older children went to school there, an attempt was made to have the parish transferred to Guildford Diocese to make it easier for Christ Church to join in the corporate church life of Dorking. However, Southwark was not willing to lose one of its few country parishes.

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Local History

Christ Church dominates the Village Green. But who built this imposing feature?

In November 2000, during the wettest autum for 200 years, the River Mole burst it's banks.

Yes, Cricket was played on the Green and W G Grace may have played here...

You may drive over the Borough Bridge every day but what do you know about it?

Read the fascinating Story of Way House aka, Brockham Industrial and Training School

Brockham owes much to Rev Alan Cheales and the tireless efforts of his wife and children. Read more

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Nick Caddick. This page was last revised on Tuesday, 27-Sep-2005 6:32 PM .